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Veterans lose meeting place in Milton
MILTON - A veterans group in Milton has lost its meeting place because of financial problems. The nearly 30 year-old AMVETS post on Old Bagdad Highway was sold at auction Thursday.
There were some emotional moments on the steps of the Santa Rosa County Courthouse as Charter Bank outbid a handful of people to buy AMVETS Post 1292.
"It tears me up," said post commander John Franklin Jr. He said the club's finances were a mess when he took over in May.
Franklin and other members were deeply saddened they couldn't save their meeting place despite recent fundraising efforts and attempts to clean up the books.
"We've worked since the '80's to make that a good post," said Franklin.
Donna Williams, a post member, said, "I'm just sad that our American veterans, nobody's helpin' 'em. You know, somebody could come out here and help them keep this building."
The post had been foreclosed on for failure to make as many as nine mortgage payments.
The group boasted around 250 members in the early '90's but now has fewer than 100. Some of them showed up outside the courthouse in a failed effort to outbid the bank.
Doris Lasater, a ladies auxiliary member, said, "I had my money in a cashiers check to go $55,000 on the place. Some of them showed up with $10,000 each."
Dan Powers, the previous post commander, has said revenue fell below the break-even point last year. He's said he told members more money would be needed to avoid foreclosure but they wouldn't listen.
"The place has not been run right since I joined it," Lasater said, "And I've seen money go out the door that belonged to the club."
Members have ten days to clear out of the post. Franklin says they're now looking for another meeting place.